Booze Banter

A Review of Del Maguey Vida y Pechuga


While we’re far from experts on the subject, we know what we like, and these days, we’ve really been liking Mezcal. So in honor of our newfound love for this intriguing spirit, The West Coast Office (The WCO) and I gathered at The Murder Table to discuss two different Mezcal expressions from Del Maguey

The reasonably priced expression (around $35 to $40 per bottle) is called Vida. Here’s what Del Maguey has to say about it…

VIDA de San Luis Del Rio® is an artisanal, Organic Mezcal from Del Maguey, at an entry-level price point and broader availability. Launched in 2010, it is highly mixable and has arrived to much anticipated industry acceptance and high bartender demand. Hand crafted, it is twice distilled, very slowly in small wood-fired, riverside copper stills to flavor specifications that underscore its versatility in cocktails. Another masterpiece out of San Luis del Rio, it has a nose of fruit aromatics, a hint of honey, vanilla and roast agave; the palate offers ginger, cinnamon, burnt sandalwood, banana and tangerine, with a long, soft finish. Viva VIDA!

The considerably pricier expression (close to $200 per bottle) is called Pechuga. Brace yourself for what Del Maguey has to say about it. This is one complex process…

Pechuga has a nose of basil, lemon, ocean, and fruit. It is almost scotch-like in its smoky taste. And yes, in addition it is salty, very soft, and tastes a wee bit like chicken. The Pechuga production season is limited to year end due to the special ingredients: Wild mountain apples and plums that must be in season and cannot be substituted. This mezcal is the most rare we have ever encountered.

Pechuga begins with Minero mezcal that has already been double distilled. In preparation for a third distillation they place about 100 liters of mezcal in the still and add about 100 kilos of wild mountain apples and plums, big red plantain bananas, pineapples, a handful of almonds and a few pounds of uncooked white rice. Next, a whole chicken breast (pechuga), skin removed, bone structure complete, is washed in running water for about three hours to remove any grease. This is then suspended by strings in the atmosphere of the still and a 24 hour, third distillation is begun. The vapor passes over the pechuga and condenses into a crystal clear liquid that has an amazing taste and smoothness. The reason for the breast they say, is so the mezcal is not dominated by the fruit…a balance. Upon completion the pechuga is removed from the still and hung in the family Altar room…the most important space in the house.

Talk about your crazy and convoluted processes! A whole lot of effort goes into making that Pechuga. This is not to say that making standard Mezcal is a walk in the park. The question is, was all this effort worth it? To find out if The WCO and I enjoyed these crazy sounding spirits, click the play button on the following video:

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